Late start days, overcrowding and addressing vaping were among the topics discussed at Roswell Independent School District’s (RISD) meeting.
RISD school board members President Alan Gedde, Vice President Ruben Sanchez, Secretary Dr. Kathleen Pittman and member Mona Kirk were present. Board Member James Edwards was present on the phone to vote for Roswell High School’s Charlie’s Angels’ trip to Florida, which passed unanimously.
Gedde recognized incumbents Ruben Sanchez (District 4) and Pittman (District 2) and challengers in the audience, Hope Morales (District 2) and Hilda Sanchez (District 4). Sergio Gonzalez (District 4) was not present but was also acknowledged. Early voting began this week on Tuesday at the Chaves County Clerk’s office.
During public comment, Denise Dawson, Roswell Educators Association president, announced a forum for all the school board candidates running for District 2 and District 4 will be held on Monday at the Elks Lodge at 1720 N. Montana Ave. from 7 to 9 p.m.
As an informational item, Principal Brian Luck and Assistant Principal Leslea Tivis of Goddard High School (GHS) informed the board that presentations will be offered at GHS next week to address vaping at the school.
Luck said a group of parents from GHS and New Mexico Military Institute previewed the presentation last month and gave constructive feedback for what would be presented to the students. He said GHS is “inundated” with vaping and said this was likely at the other schools.
Luck said Kristen Salyards, an RISD’s substance abuse liaison, has been working to keep students in school, by working with principals and recovery programs, despite “infractions” that, in the past, would have resulted in long term suspension.
“Of the 102 drug and tobacco infractions, so far this year, 90 of those are — vape devices,” Luck said. “Like we said, this is something that we knew we had an issue with and I think we might be up to a problem at this point — and we’re looking to address that. …”
Luck presented a packet with vaping statistics at the schools and also a plan for a “detection system” to try out at Goddard.
“… Because of that, and then with the use of cameras, and then with the use of security staff, that we could try to get some of this nipped in the bud …” Luck said. “We’re literally chasing smoke at this point — and we’re wanting to try and put some preventive measures in place right now to show that this is probably not what they need to be doing. And then hopefully in the event, just like a speeding ticket, if you’re going to continue to speed — then we’re going to issue the consequences for your actions, hopefully for your own good. …”
While driving home near GHS and adjacent Del Norte Elementary School, Kirk said she saw an “appalling” incident where an adolescent was vaping and walking with three younger students. She added the vaping “epidemic” at RISD needs to be addressed.
Superintendent Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy said vaping is a national issue and districtwide where administrators are focused on policing vaping. She said the “damage” from vaping is “breathtaking” and “overwhelming.”
Kirk said New Mexico School Board Association is supporting the state’s Legislature to pass bills that would ban the sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes to people under 21 and align enforcement of vaping similar to alcohol.
Late start and policies
The board went into a closed session shortly after 7 p.m. about negotiations with the Roswell Educators Association union and were back in open session at 8:29 p.m. In open session, the matter was discussed. Ruben Sanchez, Mona Kirk and Alan Gedde voted in favor with Dr. Kathleen Pittman abstaining.
McIlroy said the board has requested that middle and high schools have the “discretion” to accommodate students for the late-starts on Wednesday mornings. The late starts were implemented this year to allow principals and teachers to meet and communicate weekly.
In April, McIlroy said the “success and/or failure” will be reviewed and the district will consider the input of parents/guardians perhaps in a forum. She added it would be a way for the district to reassess how it can be done and what changes need to be made.
The board also reviewed first readings of policies regarding the following: programs for pregnant/parenting students, make-up opportunities, student attendance, compulsory attendance, entrance age requirements, admission of resident students, tuition and admission of nonresident students, student withdrawal from school/dropouts, student absences and excuses, truancy/chronic absence, released time for religious instruction, extracurricular activity eligibility and relations with state education agencies.
During the personnel report, Pittman drew attention to a vacancy for fourth grade at Military Heights Elementary and clarified that a new unit was added. McIlroy said new positions for fourth grade and kindergarten teachers had to be added to address student-to-teacher ratios. Other positions were added at Valley View and El Capitan elementary schools for the same reason.
McIlroy said principals had to talk to zone exempt parents and five or six waivers had to be done with upper-level grades with overcrowding.
Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.